Most Romance words for "frog" derive from Latin rana (e.g. es. rana, it. rana, pt. . See also va. renoc ("toad")).

However, an unexpected initial g- appears in the cognates of several Gallo-:

  • fr. grenouille
  • oc. granolha, granhòta
  • ca. granota, granyota

and Italo-Romance languages:

  • it. granocchia
  • nap. granògna
  • scn. giurana

The Trésor de la langue française suggests that this may be due to onomatopoeic influence (cf. it. gracidio), or a related Gaulish word:

avec un g- initial dû soit à l'infl. de mots qui imitent le cri de certains oiseaux (cf. lat. graculus ou gracillare), soit au croisement avec le gaul. craxaulus (Romania t. 44, p. 273; cf. aussi FEW t. 2, p. 1295b); cette explication séduisante ne peut convenir pour les formes ital. corresp. (cf. FEW t. 10, p. 60b);

Similar explanations are offered for the Catalan and Occitan cognates:1

La g- de granota, com la de grenouille, ha estat explicada com a producte d'analogia amb el crit d'aqueix animal (croasser, croailler, etc.) segons l'opinió de Schuchardt; en canvi altres lingüistes, com Jud (Rom. xiv, 273), veuen en la dita g un efecte de creuament de rana amb algun sinònim gàl·lic com crassantus.

However the initial g- of the Sicilian variant giurana/girana is soft, not hard like the other Italian/French/Catalan cognates.

What is the etymology of giurana?

Several hypotheses spring to mind:

  1. also onomatopoeic
  2. from the influence of it. girino ("tadpole")
  3. a loan from the Arabic جران (jrān) (itself from lat. rana).
  4. related to Asturian xaronca

1. None make note of the similarity with "toad" crapaud, grapaut, gripau (fr., oc., ca. resp.).

2. DAS: Perceptions, use & conservation of amphibians by indigenous people - Appendix 1: Vernacular names for frogs (and where available, toads and tree frogs) from around the world. (p.49-50)

  • For that matter see, "Indo-Iranian: *gáru Iranian: *gráw, *gáru (“stick, hollow reed”)[4] ... Manichaean Middle Persian: 𐫃𐫡𐫇𐫇‎ (grww, “cane, reed”)" [*gweru-] and Ger. Kröte, further Heuschrecke "grasshopper"
    – vectory
    Mar 16, 2020 at 19:55


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